While I’m cooling my heel in Vietnam; a great place to do so, while Dauntless waits for better weather to head north this coming summer and fall, I seem to hear the sirens calling.
The problem is, after having moved south and west for the last 12 months and 7,000 miles, passing west thru the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Central America, with Alaska, the Aleutians, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in our sights, the Sirens are calling be back with a distinct Irish brogue.
Your thinking WTF, what the F do you think I’m feeling???
I’m the one who put in the miles, the time, the big ass seas and certainly the money to get where we are.
Yet, I can’t watch a Harry Potter movie, an episode of Borderland, the Fall and certainly Jack Taylor, without missing Northern Europe, Scotland and Ireland. For my tastes, certainly the best cruising since leaving New England.
Is it nostalgia?
Or just the realization that in my last 20,000 miles of cruising, the longest lasting relationships (excluding Krogenites, of course) have come from the Baltic and the Celtic areas of Galicia, Ireland and Scotland.
Coincidence? or the Sirens?
I have a tendency to think it’s the latter. What else could explain my obsession with Europe, while I still have Asia and a few more oceans to cross at best??
So where do we go from here? I’ll do what I do best, think and plan.
I can write gobs and gobs about HCMC so far. Let me suffice to say in this little introduction that it is a true working city full of really nice, friendly people, with incredibly good food at even more incredibly inexpensive prices.
Today I did a little exploration of a new section of town, took four buses that cost me a total of $1.00, that’s 25 cents each.
Here is a little video I took on my first days.
I found it best to just close my eyes often.
And if you think the motobikes are numerous, think of the alternative like Bejing, where cars sit in endless traffic jams and the pollution is so bad it’s hard to go out!
Since I have talked, written, about my planning process a lot, you know I like having a plan.
But there are times when a plan, any plan, has been elusive. Also, the best plans are always subject to change.
Generally, I find that the best plan, or better stated, the best initial plan, is one that stands the test of time. Having a straw man to test, If I go here, this will happen, allows me to continuously refine the plan and test it mentally with many different scenarios.
Having an initial plan also allows me to write about it, talk about it. So, my friends or anyone has a chance to ask, Uh, you’re not really planning on doing that, are you? I like, even need, questions like that. They are part of my extroverted thinking process. They make me better articulate, or think through, the what and why of the plan. And of course, there are times, I learn of significant mistakes.
Oops. Like this summer’s missing 1,000 nm. That’s about 25 days’ worth of coastal cursing. A month out of a season that may only be 5 months.
My initial plan after transiting the Panama Canal in January, was to head up the west coast ending in Southeast Alaska 6 months later. Not a terrible plan, if traveling by car!
But when the details are still an ocean away, don’t sweat, don’t worry.
Then as my Panama Canal transit got later and later, I’d make some adjustments to the west coast plan, deciding to stop in the Pacific Northwest or even Oregon if that’s as far as I got by October.
I still had not found the missing 1,000 miles, but then I still did not know they were missing.
We had a quick five day, 300 miles run from Panama City to Golfito, the southernmost port in Costa Rica.
I could finally catch my breath. In fact, during the five-day run, though it meant two long 14 hour days and then anchoring in waters no so protected, the seas were flat and it allowed me to start seriously thinking of the coming cruise up the west coast.
And then I noticed that my little planning table had a little error. I had not accounted for the miles of Baja California. Mexico from beginning to end is 2100 nm, I had typed 1100 in what I call my “Planning Table”. I found the missing 1,000 miles.
Another factor came to my attention. A few posts ago I wrote about the expenses of Dauntless. Our expenses are very consistent, when I’m on the boat they run close to $100 per day. The only way that number changes significantly, is if I am not on Dauntless, like in the winter and if Dauntless is in a safe, secure, inexpensive location (like Waterford, Ireland).
Also, In the last weeks, I’ve realized how much I miss Northern Europe. My biggest mistake was not spending two summers in the Baltic. And to have this realization half way around the world is a bit annoying. (since there is nothing I can do about it now).
Martinique was a nice port, made nicer having endured a relatively rough three-week passage across the Atlantic from Europe. Beautiful women, French food & wine, what more can anyone ask for?
But after three weeks, Micah and I were both ready to move on. Sitting for months at a time is just not in me.
Therefore, my new, updated, improved plan allows me to take my time traveling north up the coast. I won’t have to travel in bad weather or contrary winds for a change. But it will be incumbent upon me to find good, economical places for Dauntless to winter over.
This winter that will be someplace in northern Mexico, next winter probably British Columbia and finally Southeast Alaska, maybe near Wrangell for the third winter.
Crossing the North Pacific will come next, then probably wintering over in Korea before heading south along the Chinese coast the following spring.
Exploring Southeast Asia and Vietnam will be up next.
And after that?
A return to Northern Europe; unless of course, the plan changes.
As I mentioned before, if you are not living in the moment, you are reflecting on the past or planning the future.
At night, as I drift off to sleep, I am usually always thinking of the future. I hate surprises. For me, there is no such thing as a “good” surprise. Unless of course, I get notified that a non-existent relative left a large sum of money in Nigeria for me. What could go wrong with that?
Exactly my point. A surprise meant I did not anticipate well enough. As many of you reading this will understand, it helps if you do read. To know and have experienced everything, I would have to be as old as the Universe itself. I’m not that old and as most of us figure out in our formative years, we will never catch up to that second-grade teacher we are in love with.
Reading and writing allowed our civilization to grow on the experience of those who came before us.
Reading allows us to experience without doing. While not the same as doing, brain studies have shown that it’s remarkedly effective. Two pianists given the same piece of music to play, one actually plays it, while the other only “plays” it in their mind. After a given set of time, there is remarkedly little difference between the two, when they actually perform it on a piano.
So, developing a mental picture is critical to my planning process. I also always have an idea of best and worst conditions. I simply never want to be surprised.
Now that the Pacific chapter of this story has started, my vision has shifted to the west, Asia in particular. Even though Asia is still years away, once I get north of Mexico, there is not much of the coast I have not seen. When I was on Shemya in the Aleutians, 30 years ago, I never envisioned returning on my own bottom.
So, the eastern and even northern portions of the Pacific, I have well imagined for a long time. So now it’s time to learn the western periphery, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
At the same time, I’m starting to think again about what is beyond that. The Indian Ocean, getting around Africa and even, once back in the Atlantic, then what?
But it was a quick trip, 5-days, to New York to tie up some loose ends.
Some lines always need a good whipping.
I also got to spend some time with some good friends, both new and old.
And best of all, I ate Korean food 3x, Japanese 2x, pizza 2x and lastly French once; best of all, I ate so well and gained no weight. Lekker.
When I get back to Dauntless tomorrow, I’ll be doing the preparing to head south to France, Spain and Portugal for the next 5 months.
Such a short trip may seem pointless, but I leave NY today feeling much better than on arrival. Being able to articulate my goals and reflecting on them with friends makes a big difference.
During June, having my friends Brian, Dan and Robin on Dauntless, really helped me put a focus on my goals for the coming years. It is great to have people around as enthusiastic as I.
Then, coming to NYC, talking with friends, facilitated the final touches on the plan. As articulated in my last post, by adding 10 months in S.E. Alaska, everything finally feels like it’s coming together.
Not having to spend all of 2017 rushing someplace will allow me to pause and smell the roses.
Having Dauntless staying put for 6 to 8 months, allows me to visit friends in Europe and probably take a trip to reconnoiter Asia.
I feel unburdened and that’s a good feeling.
So now I can concentrate on the important stuff: What’s with these cats. Here we have a billion-dollar company and they must Photoshop the cover for all their kitty liter bags.
Do these people even have cats? One would think someone in this company would think they should show some indication that they understand cats.
Must be dog people.
So, I’ll end on this poster. It fit my two cats perfectly at least in their first year as kittens.
A link to the site for T-shirt Bad Kitties T-Shirt
Well any number of plans; the current one, 15 months to Japan, now in the 29th day since its start date.
But like all plans, a plan is good only until first contact with the enemy. For Dauntless it’s headwinds, or better said, for Richard it’s the hobby horse ride headwinds produce on Dauntless. The fact that we are consuming half of our fuel, just to go up and down waves, adds to the sick feeling the ride produces.
Yep, it’s a lose, lose, lose situation for all: the timeline, my wallet and my health.
Dauntless in the meantime just motors along, oblivious to my misery.
For my long range planning, other than Jimmy Cornell’s books and pilot charts, on a daily basis I pretty much only look at this: link to current Atlantic map
This shows the current surface winds over the Atlantic. You can see that draw a line from Gibraltar to the Canaries to Barbados and the trade winds are running strong as they have all winter. So no problems there.
(side note, there is simply no point in looking at anything more specific for any period more than two weeks away. Even when I was waiting to cross the North Sea from Norway to Scotland, a three-day trip, I read the marine forecast, but really only looked at this site to figure out when I would have at least a two-day window, which is what I got)
I’ve been looking at this about once a day since fall. Only in the past month have the northerly winds let up south of Mexico and Central America.
My current 15-month plan would require me to be able to travel north from the Panama Canal to Kodiak Alaska in 170 days or about 35 miles per day. Doable with favorable winds, but I’ve been watching and the winds are not favorable, not at all. At this point, at best, I think a quarter of the days would be “good” cruising days and that may be too generous.
The other problem with this current plan is that I would probably be able to rush north out of Central America, but then get stuck in Mexico and the coast of the western U.S. for months on end. Thus passing by places I would like to spend time only to be stuck in places I don’t.
So, Plan B.
I will add a year to the Cruise Plan, wintering in Southeast Alaska.
Many boaters do it, I know it somewhat, but only from the perspective of the Alaska Marine Highway (Ferry) system.
Thus I can spend more time in Central America at the height of the winter when the northerlies are strongest and I can spend 10 months in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, some of the prettiest cruising areas in the world, full of fjords, whales, birds and bears!
The weather is not that bad and having visited Juneau and Sitka many times back in the 90’s, it will be nice to go back on my own bottom.
Beware that the Japanese Times story about this is a bit of a spoiler and not that accurate to begin with.
But I can tell you that one of the adults tells the two children that since they are a child of iron, they must always smile and basically put a good face on everything because that is what adults must do.
I am clumsy in my explanation, but I did feel it was quite poignant.
Maybe in anticipation of having Dauntless in Japan, I have been fascinated by the creativity of the Japanese in both the written word as well as film. Just don’t tell my Korean friends.
As I drove on the Belt Parkway heading west to the Verrazano Bridge and ultimately New Jersey, I was
amazed at some of the grandiose bridge construction that has taken place in the last few years. This route takes me right past not only my mother’s house, but also her sister’s house (the next to last sibling that died a few years before my mother, the last of the 7 DeLuca siblings) and my cousin’s house of that same sister.
So here is the plan. The first four months show little change, but after I get back from the USA in mid-October it will be a lot of cruising.
Previously I had decided to stay in Europe this coming year, but life happens and circumstances change. Therefore, In November Dauntless and I will start to head west not to return for many years.
The good news is that while it is a lot of miles, over 17,000, those miles are spread over 17 months. Since almost 10,000 miles are passage miles, in which we do about 150 miles per day, it means that over 300 days of the 500 we only have to average about 35 miles per day. Much less than last summer.
So, while nothing is in stone, this is the tentative plan and you know me: Make the Plan, Do the Plan.
The dates are somewhat firm in that to get to Korea in the fall of 2017, I must be able to get to Japan in early August, as I want to cross the Bering and North Pacific in July and early August.
This is a plan that is based on the weather, meaning it’s doable with “normal” weather. But there are a number of things that must happen:
Leaving the Canaries for the Caribbean needs to happen by early December.
Arriving in Kodiak, Alaska needs to happen by early July 2017.
Now of course, this depends on a few factors besides just the weather. I could be kidnapped by some Greek and decide to spend a year in Lesbos with the rest of the refugees. Some other mechanical or personal issue could overtake plans. But most likely, the weather does not cooperate. For this plan to work, I must have favorable weather during the winter and spring along the west coast of Central and North America.
If the winds do not cooperate, then we’ll spend the winter and spring in Central America and Mexico, then come up the west coast to B.C. and S.E. Alaska for the summer and winter over in S.E. Alaska, a fantastically beautiful destination all in itself.
This Plan B is not a terrible outcome and I’m sure many will think it should be Plan A, but I’ll let Fate and the wx gods decide. At best it’s a 50-50 proposition, or maybe better yet, 49-49-02, the 02% being something unforeseen like the Greeks or something.
Want to join me at any part? I can always use help, extra hands and advice, and most of all, the company. We will be doing a lot of miles, over 17,000 but who’s counting! There will be many opportunities in the next 17 months, but the better times (summer vacation) and destinations, (Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Alaska) will fill before the more tedious parts.
Oh, wait, there are no longer any tedious parts.
In any case, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts, no matter how tenuous.
Richard on Dauntless
I expect to be in the place or nearby by the date in the column to the left.
.E.g. I expect to arrive in the Lesser Antilles on 22 December.
Well actually 19,000 miles in 878 days, but who’s counting? Also 900 Days has a sad ring to it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read a book, though I’m sure the history channel has an hour documentary which is sure to have a few facts straight.
I’m packing the “large” suitcase. So far, it’s most full of those items that are hard to find in Europe and expendables that I use a lot of and are hard to find.
The orange line is 3/16” Amsteel Blue. I am modifying the lines on the paravanes birds.
Next week, I will be leaving NYC to return to Dauntless. I’m looking forward to it, as I am forward looking, though it is accompanied with a bit of melancholy, as it signifies change, trading my home in NYC for a home on Dauntless, thus having the life of a Traveller.
An ex-girlfriend once told me I was a gypsy, as I had just told her I was leaving Germany for California. Like most of my ex’s, they see the forest far better than I. Maybe if I just cut down those trees, I’ll be able to see better.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
But back to Dauntless. There is still a lot of work to finish on the boat, but hopefully we shall be back in the water by early May, ready to start an odyssey that will not end until arrival in South Korea 850 days later.
We’ll start out slowly for the rest of this year and into next winter and spring, but as 2017 ends, it will be busy.
Oh, by the way, $20/day for 900 days, $18,000 for fuel alone. I have to start watching my pennies.
So, it took two car rides, four trains, one bus and two airplanes to get home, having spent the last month in Ireland, Germany and England.
It’s great to have the ability to travel; it’s great to visit my wonderful, generous friends and it’s great to be home. None are mutually exclusive. Just the way I like it. I’m just an inclusive type of guy.
So, sitting here, with Squawk Box on CNBC in the background, I thought I would write about the evolution of our plans over the last few weeks.
This link is one of the Chrome tabs that open on my computer each time I am on-line.
I like getting a sense of the general weather patterns over the areas we will be traveling. Also, it gives a sense of how the situation changes or not, from one day to another. In this case, I’m concentrating on the western coasts of France and Spain, as well as the trade winds that will whisk us back to North America and all the way through the Panama Canal.
The long range plan has never changed; but as they say, the devil is in the details.
Before we even acquired our Krogen 42, the overall plan was:
First summer in New England, Nova Scotia
First winter back to Florida and Bahamas
Second summer crossing the North Atlantic
Wintering in northern Europe, the Netherlands.
Third summer in the Baltic
Pretty much as gone according to plan; Ireland replaced the Netherlands and has been the absolutely best choice.
This past summer has taken a bit more money, energy and bruises than anticipated.
This link shows the movement of Dauntless since July 2014. (Note: As you zoom in, the level of detail increases as to the actual route).
As I had already mentioned: first time is nice, second time is great, third time is an anti-climax. So as wonderful Ireland is, both in the people, the country and the cost; it’s time to move on.
Attending the Krogen Rendezvous in early October, helped us decide to keep Dauntless in Europe one more extra year through 2016 and much of 2017. My recent trip to visit sailing friends, Andreas & Annette in Germany and John, Jenny & Ben in England, have further revised our thinking:
First, my original plan of getting Dauntless’ bruises fixed and back in the water ASAP, was scrapped. I came to understand that time out of the water was good and it also made the work schedule for the boat yard easier and therefore less costly for me. So Dauntless will be on the hard until March.
Assuming all is well, then in April we will start our 2016 cruising season, which right now, may not end until we get to South Korea in August 2018 at the earliest.
So right now this is what the general plan looks like:
Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Orkneys, Shetlands,
???, west coast France
Portugal, SW Spain
SE Spain? Med?
Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands
Lesser Antilles, Panama Canal, Costa Rica
When winds allow moving North along west coast to SE Alaska
Cross Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Japan, Southern coast of Korea
So that’s it in a nutshell. 20,000 nm, (36,000 km) in 29 months, 700 nm/month. That’s seemingly a lot, but there are some very long legs, with about 10-12k miles over only three months. Also the last 9 months of the trip will take us halfway around the world. Ummm, that’s a lot. So it may happen that we will add a year in there probably in the Pac NW or British Columbia.
This allows the first 20 months, from April 2016 to November 2017, to be cruised at very comfortable pace.
So stay tuned. Mark your calendar and if you want to do more than just read about our adventures, drop me a line. There will be a lot of miles and days that are better done with company than without.